Boeing boss Dave Calhoun was grilled by US lawmakers and victims

image source, Good pictures

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun faced a grilling from US senators about the company’s culture as he apologized to family members of plane crash victims.

Mr Calhoun testified to Congress on Tuesday that the company had “learned” from past mistakes and that the process for employee whistleblowers was “working” – but lawmakers still accused him of not doing enough to fix a culture of retaliation.

The American company most recently drew attention when a door panel fell from a new 737 Max plane during an Alaska Airlines flight in January, causing a gap.

As part of an ongoing investigation, Boeing whistleblowers told the Senate in April about serious manufacturing problems with the 737 Max, 787 Dreamliner and 777 models.

  • author, Caitlin Wilson reports from Capitol Hill and Max Matza reports from Seattle
  • stock, BBC News

Mr Calhoun, who became CEO in 2020 and plans to leave later this year, told a Senate subcommittee that some of the problems stemmed from “untrained staff”.

He blamed layoffs and labor turnover that hit the industry post-Covid for contributing to production problems at the company.

“A lot of it has to do with untrained personnel. That’s about it, honestly,” he said.

Five years ago, the company faced heavy criticism after two 737 Max planes went down in separate but nearly identical crashes, killing 346 people.

“I flew from England to Washington DC to hear firsthand what the Boeing CEO had to say to the Senate and the world about the safety improvements made at the company,” said Zipporah Kuria, whose father was killed in a 2019 plane crash. Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.

“I continue to urge the US government to hold Boeing and its corporate executives criminally responsible for the deaths of 346 people. We will not rest until justice is served,” he said.

His daughter Clarice Moore, who died in a Boeing crash in Ethiopia in 2019, confronted Mr Calhoun and asked him during the inquest about “my daughter’s last breath on the plane”.

video title, Moment Boeing CEO apologizes to families of plane crash victims

“Did she call me? Did someone hold her hands?” she demanded.

Panel chairman Richard Blumenthal opened the tense hearing by thanking family members for “having the strength and courage to be with us.”

He also demanded to know what Boeing was doing to “end this broken safety culture.”

“I assure you I have heard the whistleblowers,” Mr Calhoun replied.

He said he had not spoken to whistleblowers and acknowledged the company had retaliated against many.

“I know that happens,” he said, adding that he did not know how many employees have been fired or disciplined for speaking out about safety issues.

During the hearing, Mr. Calhoun stood up and said he was sorry for the families’ losses.

“They’re gutting,” he said, his voice seeming to break with emotion, “and I apologize for the upset we caused.”

video title, ‘How could you do it’ screams mother of Boeing crash victim

Howard McKenzie, Boeing’s chief engineer, testified that at first there was a “absolutely” safety culture within Boeing’s engineering group.

After the inquiry, Senator Blumenthal told BBC News that he was not satisfied with the CEO’s answers and that his inquiry would continue.

“I still have a lot of questions to answer and we’re going to continue our investigation,” he said.

In May, the US Department of Justice announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into Boeing’s practices.

Several family members said Tuesday they hoped criminal charges would be filed against the company.

video title, ‘Did she cry for me?’ Boeing asks mother of crash victim

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